Witches and slo-mo gore: The new ‘Macbeth’


All hail, Macbeth. Reading Shakespeare is mandatory in high school. So is, perhaps, having to watch the outdated movie (Roman Polanski!), but this Shakespeare movie will have you wanting to voluntarily watch it. Director Justin Kurzel brings the work of Shakespeare to life with this updated film in a gruesome yet beautifully presented manner.

The cast consists of Michael Fassbender (Steve Jobs), Marion Cotillard (The Dark Knight Rises), David Thewlis (The Theory of Everything), and many other renowned actors who contribute to make the film so grand.

Fassbender’s Macbeth sounds like a true Scotsman, which makes him unrecognizable when he speaks for the first time in the film. And Cotillard’s Lady Macbeth has so much maliciousness towards everyone, excluding Macbeth, that she makes the audience feel cowardly.

Thewlis, who portrays King Duncan, is in the film for a short time before Sean Harris (Macduff) soon takes over his spotlight as a rival of Macbeth.

Blood and dirt smear across bodies in slow motion scenes as the camera continuously moves closer to Macbeth during battles on the fields in muggy Scotland. These slow motion scenes are another way of showing how the battles were unavoidable and seemed to go on for ages, as more and more men were killed by the second.

To those who are unaware, Macbeth is a tragedy written by Shakespeare that is set in Scotland about one man’s claim to rule and become King of Scotland. His partner Lady Macbeth, however, pushes Macbeth towards killing and betraying people towards that end.

Although Macbeth does kill and betray people, you come to realize that this is really because of Lady Macbeth’s taunting, since Macbeth always seems to be getting Lady Macbeth’s approval showing Macbeth’s childish demeanour. Constant glares and   questions about Macbeth’s harsh masculinity are just a few ways Cotillard put her all into driving Lady Macbeth to be controlling.

Kurzel further shows Macbeth’s childishness in a scene where Macbeth is leaning on Lady Macbeth, literally, as if he doesn’t realize being a king means you have to fend for yourself and others.

The writers Jacob Koskoff,  Michael Lesslie, and Todd Louiso mostly stay true to Shakespeare’s play other than drastically changing the ending, which is a huge disappointment.

(Spoiler alert).

In the play, Macbeth’s head is supposed to be cut off and put on a stick; rather, when Macbeth and Macduff fight, Macduff mortally wounds Macbeth who is left on the battlefield to slowly die.

Drastic bright colors and sorrowful dim colors are integrated into each act as a way of showing the change in mood. Thanks to cinematographer Adam Arkapaw, the movie has beautiful shots both on and off the battlefield. Not only is the film beautifully captured, but the wardrobe looks so old and rustic it’s hard to believe costume designer Jacqueline Durran didn’t take pieces from a museum.

Colors like black and grey are mainly used with Macbeth and Lady Macbeth before they become king and queen, but once they do become heads of Scotland, colors like orange and white are drastically used inside the castle to show the change from grief to nervousness.

Taking over scenes, though, seem to be the oh-so-beloved witches played by Kayla Fallon, Lynn Kennedy, and Seylan Baxter. The three witches frequently appear reminding Macbeth and Lady Macbeth of their future and what is to come, and they are pretty convincing in their tactics to torment the king and queen regarding their fate. When the witches see Lady Macbeth for the last time, it’s an ultimately sad yet celebratory moment, since now that she has died, Macbeth is grieving but he won’t be taking “orders” to betray and kill anymore.

“All hail, Macbeth, that shalt be king hereafter!” An infamous line along with, “All hail, Macbeth!” that make the movie memorable. The music and chanting added to the background of each scene to show anger or sorrow in Macbeth, and with the constant chanting, it should make you want Macbeth dead.

Rating: 9/10 – Incredible acting, beautiful aesthetics (scenery, wardrobe, slow motion scenes), and an ending that was inaccurate and not depicted correctly.

Macbeth is only currently available in select theaters and will be made available through Amazon Instant Video shortly after its theatrical release.